Whistleblowers have an important role by courageously standing up to fraud, corruption, and other types of unlawful or criminal activity in the workplace. When a whistleblower chooses to report illegal activity that has taken place at their employer, the employer may retaliate against them and fire them for speaking out or take other adverse actions against them. Ohio and federal laws prohibit employers from firing whistleblowers or retaliating against them in another way, such as passing them over for a promotion or demoting them. Unfortunately, that does not stop some businesses from violating the law and punishing whistleblowers.
Protecting Whistleblowers in Ohio
If you have been a whistleblower and your employer has taken adverse action against you or are considering acting as a whistleblower. The experienced Cincinnati whistleblower attorneys at HKM Employment Attorneys understand the laws governing wrongful termination cases, including the qui tam law and the False Claims Act. We have successfully represented employees in various employment laws, including whistleblower claims. Contact HKM Employment Attorneys today to schedule a case evaluation and learn more.
Examples of Common Whistleblower Complaints
The term “whistleblower” describes a person who reports illegal activity that a business commits or that someone doing business with a company commits. The majority of whistleblower complaints involve some type of illegal financial activity, such as Financial corruption or bribes. However, there are many different types of whistleblower complaints involving any form of illegal activity in the workplace, including, but not limited to:
- Environmental regulation violations
- Tax fraud, including non-payment of taxes or underpayment of taxes
- Financial fraud, such as corruption, bribes, and double billing
- Workplace Health or safety violations, such as unsafe working conditions
- Government fraud, including defense contractor fraud
- Healthcare frauds such as Medicare fraud or Medicaid fraud
- Retaliation for employees participating in or joining a labor organization
These are only a few of the many different types of whistleblowers who can report illegal activity in the workplace. Whatever type of whistleblower activity your case involves, HKM Employment Attorneys are here to help protect your rights.
Can My Employer Fire Me for Filing a Whistleblower Claim
As a whistleblower, you may be concerned that your employer will fire you if you report illegal activity. Perhaps you have already reported activity, and you are waiting for your employer to take adverse action against you. However, multiple state and federal laws prohibit employers from retaliating against eligible whistleblowers who file a complaint against their employer.
Federal Laws that Protect Whistleblowers
Several federal laws protect whistleblowers, such as the Whistleblower Protection Act, the False Claims Act, and qui tam laws. Additionally, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 protect federal whistleblowers who file complaints involving their employer’s violation of rules and regulations set forth by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Whistleblower complaints are complex; if you are making a complaint to the federal government, you must have legal representation.
Ohio Laws That Protect Whistleblowers
Several laws are also created to protect whistleblowers in Ohio, including Ohio Code 4113.52. Whether you file a whistleblower claim in Ohio or federally depends on several factors. An experienced attorney can advise you on the best strategy for your case. Under Ohio law, you must meet specific criteria to file a whistleblower claim against your employer.
Specifically, you must follow the procedures outlined in your employer’s employee handbook. You should report the offense to your workplace Superior before you alert public officials. After you report the violation to your human resources department, they have 24 hours to correct the problem and inform you of the correction. Your claim must have been honest and made in good faith.
Examples of Unlawful Retaliation Against Whistleblowers
Most people think about an employee getting fired as retaliation, but employers can retaliate against employees in many different ways. In Ohio, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against an employee in any of the following ways because you filed a whistleblower complaint:
- Terminate or suspend the employee
- Prevent the employee from receiving salary increases or benefits that they are owed
- Transfer the employee
- Blacklist the employee
- Threaten, harass, or intimidate the employee
- Reduce the employee’s pay or pension
Terminate or suspend the employee
- How to Pursue a Whistleblower Claim in Ohio
If you are an employee fired for a whistleblower complaint, do not assume that your employer had the right to fire you. Wrongfully terminated workers have the right to pursue compensation from their employer, and our experienced attorneys can fight for your rights. Whether you are filing a state or federal claim, you must have evidence proving that you meet the criteria of a whistleblower. You will also need to prove that your reported information was not previously known.
The whistleblower attorneys, if you are making a complaint to the federal government, you will need legal representation with the knowledge necessary to build a qui tam lawsuit successfully. We can review your case and help you understand whether your evidence against your employer is strong enough to meet the criteria of a whistleblower.
Under the False Claims Act, whistleblower claims are filed under seal, ensuring that the information contained in a lawsuit is confidential and not available to anyone else other than those investigating the case. Working with an attorney can work to ensure that the information in the lawsuit is confidential and that your privacy and rights are protected.
Contact a Cincinnati Whistleblower Attorney
When it comes to protecting employees who have been the victim of whistleblower retaliation, experience matters. Many Cincinnati, Ohio, residents choose HKM Employment Attorneys to represent them in their employment matters. Our attorneys have Decades of experience handling complex whistleblower claims.
We have the resources, knowledge, and skill to build a strong case for workers who have been wrongly terminated for filing a whistleblower complaint. As a whistleblower, you did the right thing and should not face financial hardship because your employer retaliated against you. Contact HKM Employment Attorneys to learn more about how we can fight for your rights.